Innovation is the key to breathing life into any movement, ensuring that it stays on a steady path forward towards the future. Throughout the years, there have been folks that have kept the fight for Black lives running and continue the legacy of folks like W.E.B. DuBois.
Next month, the innovators of today will be honored at Harvard University. Athlete and activist Colin Kaepernick, comedian and activist Dave Chappelle, and artist Kehinde Wiley will receive the W.E.B. DuBois medal at the sixth annual Hutchins Center Honors presented by the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University.
“All of the Du Bois medalists have made significant contributions to African and African-American history and culture, and more broadly, are individuals who advocate for intercultural understanding and human rights in an increasingly global and interconnected world,” The Harvard Gazette announcement reads.
Kaepernick is being honored for starting the #TakeAKnee movement in protest of racial injustice on the field. Throughout his comedic works and his other projects, Chapelle has championed racial justice in the entirety of his career. Wiley’s integration of Black folks into portrait painting has carved a space for diversity in the classic art world, particularly with his portraits of the Obamas.
In a speech honoring Dr. DuBois, Martin Luther King, Jr. once noted the activist’s significance as an “intellectual giant exploring the frontiers of knowledge.”
“Dr. DuBois confronted this powerful structure of historical distortion and dismantled it,” Dr. King said. “He virtually, before anyone else and more than anyone else, demolished the lies about Negroes in their most important and creative period of history.”
All three of these participants personify this very statement — they are using their respective forms of activism to forcefully debunk stereotypes about African American people in a time when racial tensions are at a peak. The ceremony will take place on October 11 in Sanders Theatre, Memorial Hall.